Charles Youssef made his New York Fashion Week debut last season with an impressive resumé, including degrees from Central Saint Martins and Parsons and senior design positions at Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Gareth Pugh. Those distinctions alone made him "one to watch" and his small spring 2015 collection of easy-to-wear pieces with architectural and geometric elements was definitely appealing. But his fall 2015 presentation Wednesday offered confirmation that he's still going in the right direction.
For one, Youssef showed that he knows the importance of distinguishing himself and developing a signature. Those would be zig zags, seen in delicate appliqués used as stripes on skirts, or as more abstract lines on a dress; and architectural shapes in the form of boxy sweaters and jackets. "There will always be some sort of architectural shape exploration that happens every season," he explained. This season, his starting point was architect Tadao Ando's concrete staircases, which contributed to the zig zags, which he also wanted to look like cracks in the earth after an earthquake. Even with these unique, quirky touches, the whole collection felt wearable and desirable. Luxurious fabrics like wool crepe and silk organza kept things elevated. Credit for the moody cool girl styling goes to Kate Foley, whom Youssef calls his "muse." My favorite pieces were a a black and white coat with a zig zag trim at the shoulders and a dreamy/witchy partially sheer black gown.
In addition to establishing aesthetic signatures, Youssef is focused on growth. Having hired PR and sales teams and partnered with consultant Yasmin Sewell in Paris, he's set the stage to boost his visibility and retail accounts for fall, not that he's doing too bad with his spring collection. Barneys, a dream account for any young designer, picked up his collection as an exclusive.